Remy-Leigh: Inside South East Asia

Upon Remys return from Asia, we found out the ups the downs, the whats good and the not so good; so here goes…from Asia with love.

What made you take the leap of faith and book that ticket? 
I had just completed a bachelor’s degree in film production and was making a living freelancing and working in hospitality but I felt like I was living each week on repeat. The numb feeling of routine started to get to me. I felt like I was searching for something but I didn’t know what. I knew I needed to change things up and see something new. The only thing that kept me sane were the dork adventures to far away mountains. But I needed more. I wanted to run somewhere drastically far away from anything I ever knew. So I did. I dropped it all, bought a flight and a Lot pass with a company called Stray Asia, and headed out on my own.
Like a stray dog; I went looking for something that felt like home.18871361_10154012154529364_787125246_n
“Because he takes from me what he takes from you. The merciless thief towards our youth. So while I still can I want to see everything I can. Escape from my comfort zone, looking danger in the eye. I want to measure my self by challenging myself. Understand ones self and push past my limitations. To peek through the cracks. Know what’s on the other side of mountains. To learn language, names and culture. To have fun with the locals, helping where I can along the way. To find what I lost and to stray away from my safe haven. Far far away from anything I ever knew. To draw closer to living not merely existing.
So I did..”

Okay cool, so if you had to pick one, what was the highlight…aside from cross-dressing!
After I travelled off the beaten track through Thailand, Loas, Cambodia and Vietnam. I got my self a cheap motor bike in Hanoi and decided to ride back down to Saigon. The whole trip was not easy. Filled with break downs in the middle of no where late at night, sometimes in the rain. Busses and trucks speeding past with murderous intent. Also I had never used a manual bike before, so learning in Hanoi was liking throwing myself in the deep end, with rocks tied to my arms and legs. But every day I would find myself in a long stretch of quiet road; surrounded by rice paddies and mountains. With the wind on my back and sun upon my face, words of Boniver drowning out the rumble of the bike. I felt like I was truly alive.
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Is there anything you kinda regret, or maybe some advice you would give yourself before the trip?
Laugh louder and cherish my time around the people i was with. I miss them now. I look at photos and wonder if I’ll ever see them again. I hope so. I can’t talk much about my tales from travelling with my friends back home because they weren’t there. No frame of reference. These memories were with complete strangers that grew to become my friends. I might not see them again but I know I’ll remember them for the rest of my life.
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You mentioned Stray Asia; what were the advantages of using a guide? 
It helps get past the wall that westerners stand outside of, peeking through the cracks; wondering, whats on that plate, what are they saying, what does this and that mean, how do I find this and that, and so on. You learn a great deal from them. More than you can from any travel book. But aside from that, they are an absolute laugh!
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That must have really enhanced your experience – so what was the most interesting /eye-opening thing you learned whilst out in Asia? 
While in Vientiane in Laos. I went to this place called the Cope Centre. This is where I learnt everything I now know about the history of Laos. How it’s one of the most bombed countries on the earth, from a war that it was never a part of. There was this part where it had kids drawings and words with it that were translated. One of the drawings really made my stomach flip and heart ache. It made me so angry and ashamed at the same time. A quote from a movie went through my head. “Whats the point in being a civilisation anymore if we are no longer interested in being civil”. Do you know the movie?

The locals in Laos have all the reason to hate us westerners. But all they showed me was their love. So many genuine smiles. I haven’t dared to moan about any first word problems since. I have no right to.
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Caption – Illustration 37: “The school was hit and burned. There were many people in the school who died. But I didn’t know who because I wasn’t brave enough to look. I was afraid that the air-planes would shoot me.”

Woah, okay so you got pretty deep there, lets lighten the mood – lets talk hot-spots…where are we headed?
In Laos I’d say Vang Vieng. I was told stories of this place years before I arrived. I took a note of it on my phone to remember. I had completely forgotten about that note and the story. But when I was in Vang Vieng it somehow felt familiar to me. Little did I know at the time I was taking part in the very same activities that were told to me years ago; tubing, renting a motor bike getting well and truly lost hunting down the lagoons and caves. I couldn’t shake off the familiarity. It was weird. I thought it was just being drunk ans hungover in the heat. Then while I was scrolling through the hundreds of pages of notes on my phone (I have had this phone for 7 years) – the first note was there: “Laos, vangviang go there, tubing story”. I strange feeling rushed over me. It was like I was meant to come to this place. Making those stories my own tales to tell and pass on to another.

In Cambodia Siem Reap was probably my favourte spot. At night its so livley, bars, music and food everywhere. The famous Ankor Wat temple being one of the wonders of the world is obviously mind blowing. But I do recommend going to the circus that it always running there. The price for the ticket goes towards a good cause for the kids and families affected by war and poverty. But also the whole act is full of some of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

But It i had to choose it would be Vietnam being my favourite. I didn’t care too much for Thailand, the beaches are nice but just too many tourists for my liking. More of a place that you go on holiday to than travelling around. In my opinion. Choosing my personal favourite hot spot is pretty tough. But when I think of Vietnam, I think of Hue. I spent the longest time there than I did anywhere else during my travels. The Forbidden Kingdom is nice if you are not already ‘templed out’. The abandoned water park is an awesome day out. Its like you are in a little pocket of time. But what made it my favourite place was the locals. I became friends with a few who taught me a lot and showed me an amazing time. I’d go to Brown Eyes bar to play some pool and relax. Just soak it all in, people watching and making small talk. Then a female bartender behind the bar was being playful and friendly. We had a laugh and a chat. She invited me to karaoke with her friends after her shift. Being the yes man I am I thought sure why not. I’m sure they will be just as bad at singing than myself. I went and had an awesome time. But I was wrong. They could definitely give people a run for their money on any western singing competition. It was kinda intimidating. But I was drunk and “I don’t wanna miss a thing” is my shower song. So what ever….
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Awesome, thanks Remy – so for anyone reading this who might be after some tips…what’s your advice? 
Don’t be afraid of what you want. What is fictitious in a novel or film is not so much the story but the method by which characters thought and feelings develop into action, a method which rarely occurs in daily life. People don’t put them selves out in the vulnerable cold enough for what they want. Scared of seeming weird, scared of being shut down, scared of being scared. Don’t hesitate. Right when its most scary to jump, that’s when you should jump. Just grab it with both hands and brace yourself. For this experience will scar your very being. It will show you what matters. If you are reading this. You’re already on the right track.
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You’ve shared tonnes of photos on your socials – you’ve gotta have a favourite? 
Either of the photos with the school kids from a Lao home stay. This place meant a lot to me. It was the first time I saw a village hidden in the leaves (if you got that reference you are awesome). It was made mostly out of sticks. But the kids were playing outside having so much fun. Same, same but different. Now days back home in England I don’t see kids having that much fun anymore. They just don’t. They are indoors playing computer games or looking down at a screen. I often see 13 year olds with better phones than my own. Anyway we went and gave some stuff to the school, pens books that kind of stuff. They were so grateful, was like how western kids are on Christmas day. The children were so happy. One of the things we also got them was a ball. So we played football. After about twenty minutes in that heat I felt 18902935_10154012154644364_65264196_nlike I was going to pass out. They definitely already had a football hiding somewhere because they were annoying good. It was fun and felt weirdly nostalgic. This was a defining moment where my perspective started to shift. For the better.

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Thanks Remy that was awesome, it’s great to have you back in the UK so we can start getting prepped for our next adventure…we’ll have to fill you in on the details – you’ve missed 6 months of planning already! Before we wrap this up, any further comments you have?
People ask me a lot if they should go with a tour or on their own
I say try and do both to be honest. If you are going to choose a tour I say go with Stray Asia. Their tours are flexible. You are not racing around trying to see everything in one day before you have to get back on a buss or boat to go to the next destination. Its Hop on hop off. If you want to stay somewhere longer, you just do. Then catch the next buss or the buss after that. The guides teach you a great deal. More than you could ever learn from a book or western traveller who thinks he is the nuts because he has been travelling for a year. Also you don’t know how much you get ripped off everywhere when travelling alone for the first time. Food, drink, bike rentals even at borders. Stray guides warn you an show you the way as it were. You wont be asked for extra money at borders in Cambodia with Stray. In short, its less stress, more fun and you go off the tourist beaten track to places the solo travellers have never even heard of. If you are interested just lick on their link below.
http://www.straytravel.asia/

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As the UK summit season quickly approaches we thought it would be a good idea to talk with our friends over at Three Peaks Partnership to get an understanding of the impacts of the ‘novelty challenges’ that on the one hand bring thousands of people in touch with the U.Ks landscapes, yet can be the plight of the season for others, and that’s not entirely unjustified either – with over a TONNE of trash being collected last year from the peaks…

 

 

tr3p

What was the driving force behind the partnership being founded? Was there one particular bad year for litter / mess etc or was it a slow build up of local frustrations?

Rich Pyne (Rich Mountain Experiences, Ben Nevis) was working on the Ben back in 2013 when he came across a huge pile of abandoned rubbish – an all too often occurrence. That started an idea and soon he was in touch with me (Kelvyn James, Mountain Services, Scafell Pike) and Kate Worthington (RAW Adventures, Snowdon) and together we got the ball rolling on what has become the largest organised mountain cleaning event in the UK – The Real 3 Peaks Challenge.

Without the partnership what would the Three Peaks look like?

Last year we collectively moved past the tonne collected barrier – think about that for a moment – how much does one empty plastic water bottle weigh….

My team on Scafell Pike take in excess of 50 bags down every year – but in 2016 we actually saw a slight reduction – I think that is down to a combination of now knowing where to look, having gotten the really old stuff off the hill – and the message getting out there.

Pictured below is the first haul from 2013 which inspired the creation of the partnership…and we can see why! 

trash

Why do you think there is an issue with litter / misuse of the peaks, education, attitude etc?

There’s no simple answer; many events are now encouraging people into the hills who simply aren’t equipped mentally or physically – and often they just don’t know or understand the impact that dropping litter has. I think (& I base this on comparison to the work I do oversees) that we are still along way behind in educating clients and the general public on the wonder of our natural environment – how special it is – and the part we all have to play in keeping it so. (Check out some of our posts on Ben Nevis & Snowdonia to see what’s on the doorstep!)

 

 

Do you think that mass ‘challenges’ can dilute the authenticity of our summits; or are they a force for good in opening the eyes of the masses to the incredible landscapes on offer in the UK?

Anything we do to offer, develop or encourage a love of the outdoors in our clients, friends or strangers is a good thing – interaction with nature should be a key part of everyone’s lives – the challenge is to do so responsibly.

But – the quick fix nature of the way many challenge events are promoted is counter productive to this – and oddly it’s probably also poor business!

Having made well over a hundred ascents of Scafell Pike I can tell you that the middle of the night is not the best time to climb England’s highest point – instead I’d rather encourage clients to take their time, to spend some additional time absorbing the area – maybe wandering slightly off the beaten paths, spend some money in the local businesses – take the time to fall in love – so that they come back again – rather than looking for the next 24hr fix.

What’s the first thing someone planning the 3 peaks challenge should consider to keep their visits as Eco friendly as possible?

If you carry it in – carry it out.

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So..how can people get involved?

Visit our Facebook Page – work out which mountain you’d like to come help out on, gather up your friends – and get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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So go for it…sign up and take on The Real Three Peak Challenge – or take on some of the cracking advice here, take your time and learn to fall in love with your own backyard (Unless of course you’re not based in the U.K. – in which case come along and see what we’re hiding over here!)

 

So you want to be an adventure photographer?  Of course you do, why else would you have clicked on this link?! Do you like to travel? Do you like to go on adventures? Do you like to get out of your comfort zone? And, do you have a camera (no matter how old, dusty and battered)? If you answered yes to these questions the good news is that you’re already halfway there!

If like us you have all the above credentials, maybe you’ve even been taking some photos and posting them to Instagram getting some decent feedback for a while, but you have that feeling that something is missing, scrolling through your feed and searching for hashtags like #adventure and #exploring but all you keep seeing is amazing photos and asking yourself –  “Why are my photos not this good???” – “Why am I not getting the top posts???” Well despair no more, I have reached out to some of our favourite (and hugely talented) instagrammers and asked them what their top tip is for how to take a great adventure photo to help you get those shots you’ve always dreamed of.

I have only picked a few photos from each feed so please click through to their accounts where there are tons more amazing photos to be admired! If I could have put all of them on here I would, but you would get lost for days and have no data left for the rest of the month!

polar.girl

 

“My tip for taking adventurous pictures is to find a person at least as crazy as you are and go outdoors and have fun! I found out that my most favourite photos have been captured with very little effort, while exploring beautiful places around the world and enjoying the moments with friends.”

(www.instagram.com/polar.girl/)

 

“Pre plan the adventure but don’t over plan it. Just be aware of any scenario that may soon reveal itself in present time and have your camera with you at all times. Envision the scenario before it happens and hit the shutter repeatedly. I mean I normally just ask homies to hang out and go on an adventure, bring my camera and simply take photos while life happens and think outside the box.”

(www.instagram.com/neroexplrs/)

rudirphoto

“One top tip? Well, Then it would be to invest in a carrying system like Peak Design CapturePro or Similar. Its a Camera-clip you can hang on one of the shoulder straps of your backpack, in front of you, so that your camera is always ready to shoot. I hate a camera dangling around from a strap, so the camera usually ended up in the backpack, before I bought CapturePro. With the camera in the backpack very few images and moments where captured. That sounds like a bit of an advert, but its not. So to sum up: Have your camera ready at all times, if you’re not shooting, you won’t capture the good image/moment!”

(www.instagram.com/rudirphoto/)

thebarefootboy

“My top tip would be to always be trying new things and living in the moment. Realize that life is about the now not what has happened or what will happen. Other than that be creative and have fun with the shot and edit!”

(www.instagram.com/thebarefootboy/)

wanderloove

“I always say: find a great spot, fall in love with it and show this on your photo! Every journey is a love story. I don’t know if this helps you but I do know that people love it when they can see passion in the pictures”

(www.instagram.com/wanderloove/)

adventure_scotland

“As for a top tip: I’m not much of a photographer so if I had to give advice/tips to anyone it would be the most obvious tip of all, if you want to take adventure photos then you need to become an adventurer. If you go to a boring place then chances are your photos will be boring too, unless you are incredibly creative. 
You cant capture a sunrise in the mountains if your not in the mountains at sunrise.
Also my camera is always out and ready to go,
I literally have my camera out from the start to the end of any adventure providing its safe (for me and my camera). I cant count the amazing moments i’ve missed because my camera was tucked away in my bag.”

(www.instagram.com/adventure_scotland/)

adventure_is_out_there6

 

“I take a lot of photos on my adventures and then spend a bit of time choosing the best ones and editing them. The weather always changes photos, you can go to the same place many times and it’s different every time because the weather is different.”

(www.instagram.com/adventure_is_out_there6/)

 

walkinghobb

 

“I always start early go by the rule of thirds and most important take the picture you like. I also try and capture the atmosphere of the moment.”

(www.instagram.com/walkinghobb/)

adventurerzguide

(www.instagram.com/adventurerzguide/)

“Find peoples accounts that are locals in the area (they always have some of the best spots in the area) then find those spots and put your own twist on the picture”
There you have it, some excellent tips from some excellent photographers. Personally I love the idea that was mentioned a couple of times that you have to be out there doing it to get these images, you cant be an adventure photographer from your sofa, and as Daniel said from Adventure_Scotland “you can’t capture a sunrise in the mountains if your not in the mountains at sunrise”  so get out there, get adventuring and go capture some epic photos! Don’t forget to use the tag #Dorksonahill so we can check out all your shots and who knows, we might be featuring you in a future blog.
It was really great to get to talk to the people behind these accounts, they are all down-to-earth, modest and super friendly. Big thank you for taking the time to answer our question and allowing us to share some of your work, I hope that one day our paths will cross while adventuring around the world!
Peace out
Mike
Dorks on a hill

Summer 2017 #dorksinAfrica

Our plans are now pinned down for the summer season and man we’re pumped for it! Everything between now and August will be leading up to our summit attempt of the immense Mt.Toubkal , the highest point of North Africa.
This will no doubt be our most challenging adventure to date and we cant wait to share the experience with you all.
toubkal

Between now and then however we have loads of awesome things lined up…not least the Orwell 25 Mile Challenge next month!

Stay tuned for more regular updates…

Stand-In Dork Required – Apply Within!

Last week we bid farewell to Remy; he’s off to solo around Asia with nothing but his backpack and camera. We’re not convinced he’ll get up to much; literally the guy is asleep way more than he’s awake – (see loving montage below) –

 

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So while he’s off for a 6 month nap in Asia; we’re a man short – and well, three’s a crowd. So if you fit the criteria below – get yourself over to the contact page and let us know in 30 words or less why you should become Remy 2.0. Applications should a) make us laugh b) make you sound awesome and c) give us 4 reasons to say yes.

Can you:
– spare time on occasional weekends for a hike
– enjoy idiot banter in car journeys
– eat two meals from a 2 for £10 menu (post-hike)
– get up and down a mountain without medical assistance
– do one armed pull-ups (neither can we but we try – well, Remy can, but he weighs like 7 stone. Probably)
if so..then we want to hear from you. No joke, we’re genuinely looking for a stand-in member of Dorks On a Hill (also if we like you more than Remy, we can replace him on a permanent basis).

Doah x

12 Tracks You Need To Get Jogging To // Dork Training Session: [Playlist #1]

Pictured: Mike @ Snowdonia National Park.

Track List:
RAC – Lana Del Ray: Blue Jeans
FFRR – Dansson & Marlon Hoffstad: Shake That
Kygo – Ed Sheeran: I See Fire
Gamper & Dadoni – La Roux: Bullet Proof
RAC – Foster the People: Houdini
Plastic Plates – Miami Horror: Real Slow
Plastic Plates – Sia: Cloud
Banks: Bedroom Wall
Ghosteffects – Imogen Heap: Just For Now
Heartspace – Imogen Heap: Hide and Seek
Bduubz – Goldfrapp – Dreaming

It amazes me how powerful music can be; and how the right track at the right moment can elevate your sensory experience to the next level. But the effects aren’t only felt right there in the moment; they’re way more long lasting than that…music acts as a kind of cement for our memories to sit in. In an instant of hearing a track from years gone by, our mind is transported not only back to that memory but the emotions, the feelings, everything.

This is why I make playlists; this one will forever remind me of going for jogs around the seafront village I currently live at on the coast of Suffolk. In years to come a photo won’t remind me of the ground beneath my feet and the salty breeze in my face – but these tracks sure will.

So go grab your trainers, grab a bottle of water, stick your headphones in, and get out there…

Enjoy!

25 Stunning Shots that Capture Snowdonia

All credit to original publicists via Instagram – info available on each photo so please go and check out their awesome galleries! 

Were truly blessed to live a stone’s throw from Snowdonia; a destination for hikers, climbers, campers, and ordinary folk from across the globe. Definitely something Britain can be proud of. 

Hope you enjoyed the gallery; why not send us your own snaps too or tweet @dorksonahill